October 2020 IntelliReefs Press Release
Updated: Oct 11, 2021
UPDATED MEDIA ADVISORY: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
IntelliReefs is the world's first science-driven, nanoengineering marine restoration company. We are working to put the world’s best technology underwater to build additional coral reefs that are more resilient in the face of climate change, disease, and ocean degradation. We manufacture from the nano to industrial scale, customizing our designs to help our clients reach their sustainability goals.
TORONTO, ON —
The IntelliReefs research team is elated to report that our scientific premise with regards to coral reef pathogenic disease remediation has been accepted by the Program Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Arlington, VA. NSF requested that Intellireefs bring a novel, highly technical upgrade to our original submittal, which was an intensive study of wild coral recruitment and growth rates on our biomimicking substrates. Our research team is currently designing an extension of this research program that will implement the testing of our coral disease remediation prototype. Our current IntelliReefs project in Sint Maarten was just recognized with a Greening the Islands 2020 award on November 26, 2020.
With so many environmental stressors simultaneously affecting coral reef ecosystems around the world, coral species have become more susceptible to mass disease outbreaks. Marine pathogens (bacterial and fungal) cause widespread, devastating, and lasting damage to every coral reef region of the world. Black band disease, white band disease, white plague, aspergillosis, white pox, and many others, target reef-building coral species and are increasing in prevalence and impacted areas as water quality deteriorates and chronic environmental stressors reduce species’ capacity to recover. In Florida, the white plague has affected hundreds of kilometers of coral reefs. In Hawaii, 17% of stony corals are affected by disease. Other important reef-building species (sponges, soft corals, zoanthids, and crustose coralline algae) have now been documented to suffer from frequent disease outbreaks in both the Caribbean and Indo-Pacific. The proposal will address the immediate evaluation of an untested oxidative photocatalytic substrate coating that may be able to mitigate the effects of bacterial and fungal coral disease on the world’s reefs.
In response to continued coral reef degradation around the world, enhanced man-made habitats are being deployed in an attempt to build back underwater habitats that have been lost or severely degraded. Of the current advancements in coral reef restoration technology, IntelliReefs bio-enhancing nanotechnology substrates may be the most timely, natural, and cost-efficient way to build back physical structure, biodiversity, and resilience on a global scale.
IntelliReefs is sustainably manufacturing intelligent marine habitats to save coral reefs and other vulnerable ocean ecosystems. We are a research-driven company that is physically and chemically engineering smart substrates to mitigate biodiversity loss, marine pathogens, effects of coral bleaching, and ocean acidification. IntelliReefs has created artificial coral reefs to increase biological and economic resilience, biodiversity, and available habitat, and has developed and proven a series of nanotechnology substrates called “Oceanite” for underwater construction and artificial reef manufacturing for restoration.
IntelliReefs before and after 14 months of deployment in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten. In just over a year, the Oceanite substrates were home to a biodiverse array of reef organisms.
Oceanite mineral mixtures address declining marine biodiversity, ocean acidification, and environmental deterioration. IntelliReefs deployed their first pilot structures in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten in November 2018 that were engineered to mimic established coral reefs and build oceanic infrastructure that improves resistance to climate stressors and diseases. After conducting fieldwork to assess the efficacy of this pilot project in January 2020, IntelliReefs scientists found that Oceanite can increase local biodiversity, foster wild coral settlement, and accumulate a healthy, early stage coral community in just 14 months. Read more about the benefits of Oceanite here.
IntelliReefs’ Co-Founder and concept designer, Guyon Brenna, describes the innovative philosophy behind their restoration approach: “IntelliReefs are both science and art; it is about finding the most beautiful way to communicate relationships between the objectives and the environment, the client, and the wildlife. Thus, when we design IntelliReefs, we think far beyond the material. We overlay the broader regional context, considering the objectives that you want to produce within, and design correspondingly.”
IntelliReefs has 20 years of experience in advanced materials and manufacturing. Manufacturing Oceanite requires precision and the use of highly-skilled experts in nanomaterials and casting. Each Oceanite mineral mixture can be fine-tuned down to the nanoscale for site, species, and function requirements for a specific location, increasing the likelihood that its use will bring about high-impact conservation and economic results.
Squirrelfish seeking shelter and food on IntelliReefs pilot project in Sint Maarten.
Brenna explains the exclusive underwater experience created by IntelliReefs: “Our clients are drawn to the sea, by calm or by storm, sharing our passion for the intersection between ocean and land. As a result, we have designed a dramatic organic dive performance space, an elegant swimming path nestled within an existing reef, and many other restoration products building windows between the land and sea. While each Intellireefs project is as unique as its user, our day is always guided by a reverence for the environment, an understanding that we can only improve a small part within a greater whole, and our commitment for beautiful data driven design”.
With coral reefs are dying at unprecedented rates, marine species and coastal communities are left without food or storm protection. Reefs continue to degrade because we continue to take too much fish, and leave behind pollution and excess nutrients. The effects are made worse by rising carbon emissions, making our oceans warmer and more acidic every year.
Reefs in American Samoa before, during, and after a bleaching event (The Ocean Agency / XL Catlin Seaview Survey).
Conservation organizations and scientists around the world are engaged in a race against climate change to try to preserve and restore the world’s coral reefs. Sea surface temperatures on the Great Barrier Reef hit a record high last year as the world was self-isolating during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was the most widespread mass bleaching event on record, and coral reef scientists estimate that we have lost about 50% of the Great Barrier Reef to date.
Currently, IntelliReefs is the only marine habitat building company on the market that has the ability to customize restoration substrates to enhance select biological variables by site and conservation goal. IntelliReefs is currently researching and developing additional Oceanite products for coral restoration that address disease mitigation, pre-seeding full artificial coral reefs with small colonies for accelerated restoration, and growth enhancing substrates for coral gardening projects that are more resilient to storms, bleaching, and acidification.
Reef conservation organizations need to make the conscious choice globally to only add artificial habitats and man-made structures onto reefs if they do not harm the existing ecosystem, address conservation goals on a large, ecologically relevant scale, and allow nature to build-up it's resilience to environmental and anthropogenic stressors. Otherwise, unsustainable or sub-par artificial habitats are simply fouling an already violated ecosystem.
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Additional Links for Media:
Video: “Invest in the Oceans with IntelliReefs”
The Biological Benefits of IntelliReefs
Video: “Why Corals Love IntelliReefs”
Video: “Restoring Reef Biodiversity: Sint Maarten”
High resolution photos are available upon request.
IntelliReefs are innovative reef restoration systems; the result of breakthroughs in science and nanotechnology, these engineered structures mimic established coral reefs to build an oceanic infrastructure that improves resistance to climate stressors and diseases.
IntelliReefs is a division of Reef Life Restoration, LLC with 20 years of earned experience in advanced materials, manufacturing methods and delivering custom projects, using scientific research, and architectural innovation to offer high performance marine restoration systems designed from nano to industrial scale.